LexBlog needs to up our game in 2016. Rather than merely selling and supporting a technology solution for publishing, we need to champion the role of legal blogging in our society. Just seems there is too much at stake for lawyers and the people we serve not to.

LexBlog was started twelve years ago to fill a void — that being to provide a tasteful and eloquent solution to support blogging lawyers. Blogging, then, as now, could theoretically be done at little or no expense but lawyers wanting to look good and to build a reputation would pay for technology and support.

I always presumed lawyers would do good through blogging. They’d freely offer information, insight and commentary on niches that were not being covered. They’d build their network for learning and advance the law — we’d have better lawyers through blogging. Lawyers would have a better name.

Consumers of legal services, whether an executive, in-house counsel, consumer or small business person would be better equipped to pick legal counsel in an informed fashion. After all, reading a blog where a lawyer put their knowledge, experience, passion and care on display enabled one to size a lawyer up more than a directory listing could.

I knew SEO and web traffic were advantages of blogging, but blogging offered lawyers so much more. Blogging democratized publishing for lawyers. It enabled the average lawyer to reach new heights and go places they’d never have dreamed of.

Blogging was like writing a book or two on a niche. Niche blogs became must haves for people with relevant interests. Blogs enabled lawyers to network and meet with people they’d never have before. Speaking engagements and being quoted in other blogs and in the mainstream media became routine.

Blogging as a lawyer was like becoming part of a literary guild, a journalist, a reporter, a publisher and community leader. All of which put blogging lawyers in a position of authority and influence. This authority and the growing relationships got lawyers hired by consumers, corporations and small business people.

A decade or so later we have companies selling content to lawyers so they can have a blog without blogging. Major law firms are identifying popular keywords their lawyers should use more liberally in blogs to draw traffic through a sales a funnel on consumer products web software they have bought for business development. Metrics of pageviews and subscribers versus measuring the value offered and the reputation grown have become the norm in legal blogging.

Take a look at what Jeff Jarvis had to say as to journalists on this point as reported by the Guardian in a piece I came across a couple nights ago. Imagine how much better lawyers and the people we serve would be if we all focused on service to others in our blogging versus attention and traffic.

  • News organizations need to rethink journalism away from being a content service and more toward the idea of being a service.
  • News outlets should “know people as individuals, not as a mass” and tailor the news and experiences they offer accordingly.
  • Perhaps defining ourselves as content creators is a trap. That workflow convinces us that our value is embodied entirely in what we make rather than in the good value people derive from it.
  • An over-reliance on traditional metrics, such as pageviews, as a measure of success will lead to nothing but cats, and crap.
  • We have to decide what we really are. Because if we keep on going with volume, with the old media metrics, the mass media metrics of reach and frequency, transpired to our world in terms of pageviews and unique users, then we’ll be commodified as a business.
  • It is also important for news outlets to acknowledge they are “not alone.” It makes sense for outlets to work together through collaboration and curation, “sharing content and audiences” which could improve the scope of coverage and public service for everyone.
  • In an increasingly crowded news space, all outlets have to find their niche. No one can do everything, and you have to figure out what you do. Cover what you do best and link to the rest.
  • If you’re not the best at what you do – if you’re the 20th best or the 30th best – don’t bother doing it. And we have too much of that going on in this industry. We are a very inefficient industry.

Despite some great blogging on our network, LexBlog has been guilty of facilitating less than quality blogging more than once over the years. Rather than teaching and supporting best practices in ways that reach lawyers, we’ll enable copy which accomplishes little for lawyers and offers their audience little, if anything, of value.

So rather than foster less than quality blogging at times, in 2016 we’ll do the best we can to service good legal bloggers and shine a light on them along the way.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Patrick Nouhailler.

  • Kevin, As you know, we were one of the your first clients and a non-law firm. Being part of the LexBlog movement for the last 11 years, i have no doubt that LexBlog will accomplish that goal. We’re excited to be part of it. Best Wishes and Happy New Year from our small but mighty firm to yours.

    • We’ll need your help Jerry. There are many who believe blogs are used by many merely for SEO and web traffic generated by little more than placing dry email updates or copy written by others in blog posts. ;)

      *Kevin O’Keefe*

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  • Well Blogging has given a new momentum to law & its lawyers, where they can easily express their feel & judgement through some of the blogging sites. Rather people who are not much aware of the trails or cases which took place at court, may get details through blogging sites. Its here to shine further.

  • I think it might be hard for lawyers to find and channel their brand at a basic level which then translates to a not-so-great blog. I know I’ve struggled with figuring out whether I want to be the NY Elder Lawyer or just all issues related to aging and retirement nationally.

    • Focus is tough for lawyers. The fear is not to pigeon hole themselves. Better though to look at a blog as the currency that celebrates one’s reputation and relationships versus the content itself.
      What I mean is that if you focus on a niche within an area of law and blog the right way you will get known quickly and build relationships. Your reputation and relationships will bring in work on the niche and on other matters within the general practice area.
      Solely as an example you may want to get tighter than NY Elder Law, which is still darn broad. Imagine blogging on divestiture of assets in NY (largest state in country) so as to still qualify for federal and state benefits at some point — way of getting assets to kids. In time you would be speaking at bar and other events on the subject and cited and quoted by blogs and in the main stream media. You would be labeled as something broader, i.e. NY elder law attorney.
      Look at Jeff Nowak, publisher of FMLA Insights. He was going to do employment law to cover what he does. Give him a call and ask him how the niche to build his reputation and relationships has worked.
      It can be fun and rewarding (personally, professionally and financially) to be a bit of a star. The niche is going to get you there and separate you from other lawyers who may struggle.
      Help any? Still have questions?

      • You make an interesting point. For a while I’ve thought on focusing a blog on fair hearing decisions that relate to nursing home Medicaid because they are not chronicled or catalogued by legal research sites and I think the analysis gives a good jumping off point for a lot of the elder law issues I speak about. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it within my blog which I try to use to generate general content that we push out into social media.

        • Hi Anthony,

          If you’re looking for relevant and timely content, here’s a suggestion. Fraud and other financial crimes against seniors is a big hot button for law enforcement agencies and regulators on both the federal and state level. Whatever coverage there is, it’s usually by our fellow LexBloggers directed towards the clients they represent, i.e., individuals and firms that are regulated. If your target market is the seniors, their families, caretakers, support groups, etc., there is much to comment including “takeaways” and “calls to action”. I would certainly be available to discuss this matter in more detail with you.